Topic >> technology

Passports easily compromised by hacker

technology, video 2 Comments »

passportAs of January 2006 all issued U.S. passports carry an RFID microchip embedded with personal information, including name, nationality, gender, date of birth, place of birth and a digitized photo.

Government officials have repeatedly assured privacy advocates and the public that the personal information on the chips is secure, and that the technology will make it more difficult to forge passports and enter the country illegally.

It seems however that they are not that secure. Recently a hacker with easily acquired equipment was able to copy a few RFIDs while tooling around San Francisco in his car.

See clip below…

The RFID technology is starting to appear in drivers’ licenses too.

If you are concerned about your privacy and want protect your passport there are number of options including Passport Stronghold, RFID-Shield and ID Stronghold.

More at engadget.

Deadly e-waste shipped overseas

activism, environment, technology, video No Comments »

As an avid consumer of electronics, I try very hard to dispose of it properly. Of course that wasn’t always the case. Back in my PC building days I would get rid of defective components by simply tossing them in the trash, not giving a second thought to the toxic materials they contained or where they might end up. But now that we live in a more Green conscious world, I make a concerted effort to either sell, donate or recycle all of my e-waste. Fortunately since moving to Macs, I seem to generate a lot less of it.

All of which makes the segment that aired tonight on the 11/9/08 edition of
60 Minutes all the more disconcerting. Please watch (note that there is a brief ad at the beginning).

While we all struggle to do our part, it’s really disheartening to see our best intentions literally go to waste.

If you receive a flyer about dropping off e-waste, do some research on the company first. We received such a flyer recently from Zarc, LLC based in California. After reviewing their website, it appears they recycle at least some of their CRTs through the Tung Tai Group, in Hong Kong.

Not very reassuring, is it?

No on 8 and No on 2 (Florida) Websites Attacked by Hackers

lgbt, politics, technology, video No Comments »

It appears that that No on Prop 8 website, and Florida’s No On 2 site (another anti-gay marriage initiative) were both victims of hackers yesterday evening in a coordinated denial of service attack at the height of fundraising efforts.

The No on Prop 8 campaign released the following statement:

“Today the NO on Prop 8 campaign’s Web site ( was the victim of what appears to be a coordinated attack designed to bring the system down. According to, the denial-of-service attack (DoS) on the NO on Prop 8 website occurred before 11:30pm, Wednesday, October 29th and coincides with a similar attack on Florida’s NO on 2 campaign, the Constitutional Amendment Against Marriage Equality. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, an attacker attempts to prevent legitimate users from accessing information or services. By targeting a computer and its network connection, or the computers and network of the sites, an attacker may be able to prevent someone from accessing email, web sites, online accounts (banking, etc.), or other services that rely on the affected computer. The most common and obvious type of DoS attack occurs when an attacker ‘floods’ a network with information.”

When attempting to make a donation last night we noticed how how sluggish the No on Prop 8 website was, but attributed it to an increase intraffic due to donations and not anything sinister.

Sometimes the site still feels sluggish today. If you are unable to get through to make a donation, you can also donate through ActBlue or at Equality California. The No on Prop 8 campaign needs $3 million in donations by midnight Friday to counter the opposition’s recent surge in donations to purchase airtime for ads between now and election day. The campaign fears we may lose without this support.

While I am not surprised by the intellectual dishonesty of No on Prop 8’s opponents, I am a little surprised with the intellectual capability of it’s supporters to put together such an attack.

I guess hackers come in all stripes, even bigots.

I’m a Proud Apple fan boy today: Apple donates $100K to No On Prop 8

apple, lgbt, politics, technology 18 Comments »

Apple came out strong against Prop 8 today in the shape of $100,000 donation.

Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.

I’ve long been a member of the Apple faithful, having convinced many to switch to Mac over the years — Apple, where’s my cut!? But after today, all debts are forgiven. I’m really proud of them and the announcement is well timed. Evidently Apple couldn’t care less about Protect Marriage’s blackmail campaign against businesses supporting marriage equality.

Out of curiosity I’ve been following a lot of the forums on Apple friendly sites to gauge the reactions. It’s run generally positive, running the gammut from “I’m going to the Apple store tonight and spending a lot of money in thanks” to “I just bought a new Macbook and I’m returning it tonight. I can’t support a company that supports immorality.” Bigots, please feel free to return your Apple products, it’ll leave cheaper refurbished products for the rest of us.

I’m going home to kiss my Mac now. You do the same.